Ruth leaves what she knows and follows Naomi back to Bethlehem. Ruth arrives in Bethlehem, a land she doesn’t know where they worship a God she doesn’t know.
Using I John 2:7-15 Melissa shows that factions in the Church are nothing new. As the Church was starting, there were different understandings of the Gospel message. How do we handle this?
In the last sermon in her series on the 10 commandments, Melissa focuses on the tenth from Exodus 20:17. To help us understand the concept of “to covet” Melissa has the congregation participate in a little biblical exegesis. She uses 2 Samuel 11:1-13, the story of David and Bathsheba, to explain that coveting has to do with people who have the power and desire to possess. This commandment was–and continues to be–aimed particularly at men. The sermon ends with the congregation partking in communion.
Melissa continues her series on what we generally call the ten commandments, found in Exodus 20:1-16. But she intertwines this Old Testament passage with the Gospel reading from Mark 10:17-31, what we typically refer to as the story of the rich young ruler.
Jesus tells this man and the disciples–and us–that the commandments all along have been a form of judgment that actually sets us free.
Paul’s letter from jail declaring his thanksgiving for Christ and prayers for discerning how to live a life to the glory and praise of God.
Melissa preached from Acts 9:1-19 about Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. However, it wasn’t only Saul who had an unexpected experience with Jesus. God involves Ananias in Saul’s conversion, even though he really wasn’t needed. Ananias also needs to be able to see. Saul is turned from a predator to a liberator, but Ananias converted too. Turning to his former enemy, Ananias calls Saul “brother.”
This was “holy humor” Sunday and Melissa started out her message with a joke before getting into the story told in John 20:19-31. Just as Jesus met Thomas, Jesus meets us where we’re at. Faith is not something you come to on your own. It takes many different forms and in every single one of them, doubt is part of the mix.
The most foolish thing we believe is that you were created for no other reason than for love. You do not have to do anything at all to be loved. We’re utterly convinced that when you are confused and you can’t quite get your beliefs in line, when your head and heart collide, that Jesus is making a way to you. You don’t need to do anything at all to be loved. You don’t have to earn your way to some great reward. But’s that’s ridiculous! Or at least that’s what the world thinks.
Prior to Melissa’s sermon on this Easter Sunday, Pam read the poem, “Christ as a Gardener” by Andrew Hudgins.
Mary returns to the tomb Jesus had been laid in after she and the two disciples found it empty. She’s weeping. Then she sees these angels. Then there’s this gardener. He had to have been there all along, hadn’t he? She’s begging him to tell her what he saw. “Where is the body of Jesus?!?” She can’t see it’s him…until he says her name. “Mary.” And her eyes are opened.
We wait beside tombs, because that is where he says he’ll show up. Where love leads us back, without reason, and often without hope. God will show up where there is nothing left but devastation, where there is no way out or where no one else is coming. It’s here, waiting here, where our grief at the pain inflicted by the world will break open. And we’ll discover the one who is there calling us by name. Jesus is there, who makes contact.
On this Palm Sunday Melissa told us about the Alexamenos graffito. Due to some technical issues, the beginning of her sermon is cut off.
Jesus isn’t interested in re-imagining the structures or reinforcing nationalism. Instead, the whole world has gone after him, as it says in the Gospel of John. Jesus has come for the world. Liberation isn’t just for Israel or the Jews; it’s for everyone. That looks like failure in our world. A failure of too much love. Love expanding to those we may not want to be loved.
We’re challenged to take a little time this week to search out our lives to find where we’ve made Jesus too small, where we’ve made something–or someone–unredeemable. Because when we return next week, it will be Easter!